I just wanted to say a few words about natural movement, and what we mean by it in Chinese martial arts, before I post part 4 of my 8-week course on Tai Chi movement on Sunday.
If you’ve been following the videos you’ll notice that I did a kind of ‘universal’ open and close exercise in part 1, which cycles between two phases
If you’ve been following up to week 3 you’ll know by now that it’s not a case of just mimicking these postures – you need to be going into and out of them using the elastic connection you’ve been developing by doing the arm circle exercise.
You can see these open and close postures in nature all the time, in movement – when a squid or octopus swims it kind of pulses between open and close.
The classic example in the animal world is the Cheetah, since it’s the most majestic animal when it comes to running. It cycles between open and close quite obviously too, which helps.
In the Chinese martial arts, all the ‘internal’ martial arts like Bagua, XingYi and Tai Chi should be using open and close. The martial art that best exemplifies it though is XingYi, as all the 5 element fists go through a very obvious open and close cycle.
For example, in Pi Quan:
When we say “natural movement” is used in internal arts, this is what is being talked about.
Of course, you can use the open and close sequence in everyday life too. Just yesterday I was kicking a ball about with my kids in the park and I started to play around with open and close as I kicked the ball, rather than just doing it with my leg in isolation. When you use open and close your whole torso and back get involved – I was quite surprised by how much extra power and direction I could give the ball when I started to use open and close to kick it. Like everything, it starts off big and clumsy and first, but you soon learn to remove the excess movement and refine it.
Look out for part 4 on Sunday when we’ll be taking a look at how breathing factors into the whole thing.